MONTRÉAL, Oct. 30, 2017 /CNW/ - Concordia Student Union (CSU) will take all "necessary and proper" action to defend the constitutional rights of all students who are adversely affected by Bill 62, the law that was adopted by the Quebec National Assembly.
Bill 62, officially known as An Act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality and, in particular, to provide a framework for requests for accommodations on religious grounds in certain bodies, contains a provision that prohibits face coverings for all persons receiving or providing a public service. The provision is deemed to target mainly Muslim women who wear the niqab or the burqa.
The CSU, which represents more than 35,000 undergraduate students at Concordia University who come from different racial, ethno-cultural and religious backgrounds, and countries, considers Bill 62 to be contrary to the Canadian and Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and therefore unconstitutional. The CSU adopted a resolution condemning the law as being "a legislated barrier and deterrent for Muslim women's right to education, services and employment both at Concordia University and elsewhere."
"[Certain] provisions of Bill 62 target and disproportionately affect Muslim women in Quebec, who are Concordia students and CSU members, and that overall Bill 62, in its application, could produce exclusionary consequences for those that lead to further discrimination, Islamophobia, penalization and marginalization of these women," says the Resolution.
"Bill 62 is unacceptable and unconstitutional state-sanctioned discrimination against Muslim women and their families on the basis of gender and religion, amongst other grounds. It constitutes state-sanctioned violation of Muslim students at Concordia of their right to education as well as their right to employment and access to related services that are fundamental to their well-being, freedom and academic as well as professional endeavors," the Resolution also states.
"We support high quality, universally accessible postsecondary education as a fundamental human right for all, particularly women" said Omar Riaz, CSU General Coordinator. "By prohibiting women who, for personal religious reasons, wear the niqab, from receiving educational services, Bill 62 effectively bars these women from our university and deprives them of the educational and job opportunities to which they are entitled," he added.
"It is ironic that a piece of legislation that is supposed to protect gender equality, among other things, produces the effect of discriminating against women simply because of their choice of faith and clothing," noted Sarah Abou-Bakr, a Muslim student at Concordia.
The CSU will call on other student unions and community organizations to oppose Bill 62 through all legal, political and social means available. In its view, Bill 62 will effectively promote Islamophobia, because in reality, it is not only about the burka or the niqab, but ultimately, about Muslim women and their families who will pay the price of state-sanctioned prohibition and discrimination.
"This is very much like U.S. President Donald Trump's Muslim travel ban," added Riaz. "Once the State is allowed to arbitrarily and abusively legislate against the constitutional rights of one minority group, which group will be next?"
Finally the CSU, along with its Legal Information Clinic (LIC), the Muslim Students' Association of Concordia University (MSA Concordia) and the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR)will be organizing a panel discussion regarding Bill 62 Wednesday November 1, 2017 at 18:30 Concordia, Hall Building, 1455 de Maisonneuve West, room H609
Among the guest speakers are:
Pearl Eliadis Human rights lawyer and Adjunct Professor at McGill University's Faculty of Law and full member of the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism
Sameer Zuberi Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association (CMLA) national board member
IdilIssa- Policy analyst, communications professional and board member of Paroles de Femmes,
Fatima Ahmad- a Niqabi wearing Montreal university student
Representative of the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission (To be confirmed)
SOURCE Concordia Student Union
For further information: Omar Riaz, CSU General Coordinator, 514-848-2424 ext. 8899, cellphone 514-318-6233, [email protected]